I haven’t done a lot of posts lately, much less history posts. But today is an important anniversary, and will probably be the last major anniversary for this event in which there are still a number of people alive who remember it.
The attack on Pearl Harbor was one of those events that defined my grandparents’ generation, and virtually everyone could tell you where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news. And of course, President Roosevelt’s speech to Congress the following day is one of the most famous in American history.
Strangely, I don’t know for sure if anyone in my family was there, although I am about 90% sure that I did have one relative there – my great-uncle John Speckhals. He was a career navy guy, who enlisted in 1936 and stayed in the Navy through both World War Two and the Korean War. Uncle John spent his entire pre-war career on one ship, the USS Patterson (DD392), a Bagley-class destroyer that I know for a fact was at Pearl Harbor during the attack.
It is believed that the Patterson shot down one Japanese plane during the attack, as explained in the ship’s after-action report. I vaguely remember a story that Uncle John told me when I was a kid, about how he was not on the ship during the attack (I think he had left the ship to attend a Catholic service), but like a lot of other guys was trying to get back to it.
Anyway, I was thinking about you, Uncle John, and about all the other family members who lived through those times. I wish I had more time with all of you.